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Apple, RIM and HTC Lead in Mobile Handset Race

ABI Research says Nokia’s market share slid marginally because its revamped smartphone portfolio has yet to gain traction while Samsung made marginal gains in market share.

In nearly all parts of the world, consumers’ appetite for purchasing the very latest handsets has not abated. Quite the reverse: “ABI Research estimates 390 million handsets and smartphones were shipped in 4Q-2010, up 15.6% year-on-year,” says VP for forecasting Jake Saunders. Overall, that takes the 2010 total of handsets shipped to 1.36 billion. This is a remarkable turnaround given that just one year ago, 2009 shipments had contracted 4.4% YoY.”

Nokia’s market share slid marginally to 31.7%, because its revamped smartphone portfolio has yet to gain traction. Samsung made marginal gains in market share (to 20.7%). Samsung’s smartphones, including the Galaxy-S, have helped to strengthen its competitiveness in the smartphone sector, but in the overall handset market, this vendor is treading water.

Apple’s iPhone 4 continues to capture a growing chunk of the smartphone market (4.2%). RIM also showed respectable gains (3.6%) due to a refreshed lineup of keyboard smartphones as well as a hybrid touch-screen/keyboard smartphone, the “Torch.” Other overall handset market share “winners” include HTC, Huawei, ZTE and TCL.

LG (7.8%), Sony-Ericsson (2.9%) and Motorola (2.9%) contracted in global handset market share. However, Motorola has continued to show quarter-on-quarter growth.

A number of vendors have jettisoned their global handset market-share aspirations and are instead focusing their resources and expertise on growing their high-end smartphone market share. Over time, a number of Chinese and Indian handset vendors will corner an increasing slice of the global handset market.

They are introducing aggressively priced handsets and smartphones that cater to the needs of emerging market consumers as well as mobile operators looking for operator-branded handsets. “Huawei, ZTE and TCL/Alcatel Mobile are being joined by Indian vendors Micromax and Spice Mobile as regional and global handset movers and shakers,” comments mobile devices VP and practice director Kevin Burden.

Handset vendors are not the only beneficiaries: chipset companies ARM and Qualcomm have had one of their best financial performances due to the smartphone boom, while MediaTek is angling to capture the low-end smartphone segment.
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